October 8, 2020 11:30 AM, EDT

Pelosi Says No Action on Airline Aid Without Bigger Stimulus

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin reportedly discussed a broader stimulus bill with Pelosi on Oct. 7.Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin reportedly discussed a broader stimulus bill with Nancy Pelosi on Oct. 7, despite Trump saying he would halt negotiations Oct. 6. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/Associated Press)

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Oct. 8 there could be no action on a stand-alone bill to aid airlines or any other sector of the economy without an agreement with the White House and Republicans on a broader economic stimulus package.

Pelosi’s remarks at a news conference at the Capitol suggested that there would be no quick resolution of the standoff over aid to the U.S. economy even as there are signs the recovery could weaken without further stimulus.

Pelosi said aid for airlines would have to be part of a larger stimulus conversation. She has rebuffed President Donald Trump’s called for Congress to pass relief legislation piecemeal.

“They just want money for the president to spend money on who knows what?” Pelosi said. “There is no stand-alone bill without a bigger bill.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has signaled willingness to talk about a standalone airline bill.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Oct. 8 said she would no longer consider a stand-alone airline bill without a broader stimulus package. (Jacquelyn Martin/Associated Press)

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin raised the prospect of restarting talks on a broad stimulus package in a conversation with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Oct. 7, despite President Donald Trump saying he was ending negotiations, according to a person familiar with the discussion.

Trump said Oct. 6 he was pulling his negotiators out of the talks, saying Pelosi refused to make any concessions. But he abruptly changed course and urged trying for a deal on some individual aid packages. On Oct. 8, he said that talks on an economic stimulus plan are now “starting to work out.”

The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index touched a session high on the news of Mnuchin’s overture.

But there was no immediate sign that the two sides have come any closer to bridging some wide differences, and there is now no chance of quick action on individual pieces of legislation, such as aid to U.S. airlines.

The White House and Pelosi had indicated a willingness to strike a deal on airline aid, but there were differences on the structure of such assistance. In addition, at least three Republican senators and some GOP House members had raised objections to existing proposals.

Pelosi and Mnuchin held phone calls Oct. 7 on potential aid for the airline industry, and they are scheduled to speak again Oct. 8.

Pelosi on Oct. 7 rejected pressure from Trump to green-light a bill authorizing $1,200 individual stimulus checks, saying that was insufficient to address the COVID-19 challenge.

President Trump said stimulus talks are now "starting to work out," on Oct. 8.

President Trump said stimulus talks are "starting to work out," on Oct. 8, two days after he tweeted for an end to the discussions. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Airline Bill

Mnuchin’s calls Oct. 7 underscored the Trump administration’s concern about the state of the airline industry, which has been walloped by the COVID-19 crisis. Carriers have furloughed about 38,000 people since Oct. 1, including major layoffs at American Airlines and United Airlines.

House Transportation Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio last week asked for unanimous consent on a bill to extend expiring aid through March for airlines, but House Republicans objected, saying they hadn’t been consulted.

House members aren’t planning to be back in Washington before the Nov. 3 election, but Pelosi previously said they could be called back to vote on additional stimulus measures.

Federal Reserve officials led by Chairman Jerome Powell this week stepped up their calls for a broad relief package to help the unemployed and endangered businesses, highlighting concern about undermining the economic recovery.

During an appearance Oct. 7 on ABC’s “The View,” Pelosi didn’t explicitly shut the door on continuing negotiations with Trump and the administration, or on potential measures focused on new stimulus checks, aid for airlines or other issues.

But she did disparage the idea of just sending stimulus checks without the other relief Democrats have been seeking.

“Well, it’s hard to see any clear sane path in anything that he is doing. But the fact is, is that he saw the political downside of his statement of walking away from the negotiations,” Pelosi said of Trump. “All he has ever wanted in negotiation was to send out a check with his name printed on it. Forget about the virus.”

Erik Wasson, Billy House and Josh Wingrove were the primary contributors to this report.

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